Wilmington in New Hanover County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
A National Cemetery System
Civil War Dead
An estimated 700,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Civil War between April 1861 an April 1865. As the death toll rose, the U.S. government struggled with the urgent but unplanned need to bury fallen Union troops. This propelled the creation of the national cemetery system.
On September 11, 1861, the War Department directed commanding officers to keep “accurate and permanent records of deceased soldiers.” It also required the U.S. Army Quartermaster General, the office responsible for administrating to the needs of troops in life and in death, to mark each grave with a headboard. A few months later, the department mandated interment of the dead in graves marked with numbered headboards, recorded in a register.
Creating National Cemeteries
The authority to create military burial grounds came in an Omnibus Act of July 17, 1862. It directed the president to purchase land to be used as “a national cemetery for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country.” Fourteen national cemeteries were established by 1862.
When hostilities ended, a grim task began. In October 1865, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs directed officers to survey lands in the Civil War theater to find Union dead and plan to reinter
Most cemeteries were less than 10 acres, and layouts varied. In the Act to Establish and to Protect National Cemeteries of February 22, 1867, Congress funded new permanent walls or fences, grave markers, and lodges for cemetery superintendents.
At first only soldiers and sailors who died during the Civil War were buried in national cemeteries. In 1873, eligibility was expanded to all honorably discharged Union veterans, and Congress appropriated $1 million to mark the graves. Upright marble headstones honor individuals whose names were known; 6-inch-square blocks mark unknowns. By 1873, military post cemeteries on the Western frontier joined the national cemetery system. The National Cemeteries Act of 1973 transferred 82 Army cemeteries, including 12 of the original 14, to what is now the National Cemetery Administration.
Reflection and Memorialization
The country reflected upon the Civil War’s human toll—2 percent of the U.S. population died. Memorials honoring war service were built in national cemeteries. Most were donated by regimental units,
(lower left) Soldiers’ graves near General Hospital, City Point, Va., c.1863. Library of Congress.
(center) Knoxville was established after the siege of the city and Battle of Fort Sanders in 1863. Cemetery plan, 1892, National Archives and Records Administration.
(upper right) Lodge at City Point, Va., pre-1928. The first floor contained a cemetery office, and living room and kitchen for the superintendent’s family; three bedrooms were upstairs.
(lower right) National cemetery monuments, left to right: Massachusetts Monument, Winchester Va., 1907; Maryland Sons Monument, Loudon Park, Baltimore, Md., 1885; and Women’s Relief Corps/Grand Army of the Republic Monument to the Unknown Dead, Crown Hill, Indianapolis Ind., 1889.
Erected by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-National Cemetery Administration.
Location. 34° 14.27′ N, 77° 55.367′ W. Marker is in Wilmington, North Carolina, in New Hanover County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Market Street (Business U.S. 17) and North 20th Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. The marker is located on the grounds of the Wilmington National Cemetery. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2011 Market Street, Wilmington NC 28405, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. United States Colored Troops (within shouting distance of this marker); Oakdale Cemetery (approx. 0.4 miles away); Johnson Jones Hooper (approx. half a mile away); Wilmington College (approx. 0.6 miles away); John N. Maffitt (approx. one mile away); James F. Shober (approx. one mile away); St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (approx. 1.1 miles away); William G. Craig House (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilmington.
Also see . . . U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more about benefits and programs for Veterans and families. (Submitted on September 18, 2014.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 18, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 259 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 18, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.